Helo welcom 2 my websight
Once a year the coastal city of Busan, South-Korea, becomes a hub for greasy, sweaty video game nerds of all ages as the G-Star Global Game Expo opens its doors.
As you might’ve read, I attended this massive event for the first time in my life last year, together with my Canadian friend Gary and my Hungarian friend Blanka and had a great time, so I had been hyped as hell to go again for like the past 6 months. Me and Gary had decided to go two days this year so we could play more games than we could last time, visit a few more events and enjoy a bit of Busan in the process…but of course Korea wouldn’t be Korea without ruining everything you love.
Because why not have TOPIK, the single thing that matters in my life at this point and will pretty much decide my entire future here in Korea, take place on the exact same weekend as G-Star? Obviously this thoroughly messed up all of our plans since TOPIK is always planned on a Sunday and I’d have to study beforehand as well, so our awesome weekend was reduced to me going to Busan on Friday for G-Star and meeting Gary for like 2 hours before I’d have to catch the train back to Daegu in order to not be late to still ride the subway home.
After being so hyped about it and after not having seen Gary for such a long while, this was a pretty big bummer, but since there was nothing to be done about it I just decided to at least enjoy the day and highly recommend for TOPIK to give me level 5 for my efforts.
Anyway, learning from last year I had bought my ticket online in advance so I could avoid the 1+ hour line in front of the ticket booth that we had to brave last year, but when I finally arrived in Busan after waking up before 6 in the morning to get there on time it turned out that I guess Friday is the best day to visit events such as these because there was simply no line whatsoever so I could walk right in.
Although I had experienced this place first hand last year, seeing these huge throngs of people streaming through this giant exposition hall was still a real sight to behold and really made me feel like I was at an event that actually mattered. (As far as I am aware it doesn’t really, though. I don’t think any announcements or anything are made here.)
Unfortunately there seemed to be a lot less big hitters showing of their games compared to last year, and as a result the amount of indie and other small company booths had risen significantly. I guess that’s pretty okay if you’re into le indie games and mobile stuff, but to be honest I really liked the grandness of the whole experience last year and having big companies there with money to burn on awesome backdrops, events, swag bags and stages really enhances the experience a lot. Then again, there were still plenty of large firms present this year as well including Nexon, Sony, NCSoft and nVidea, so it wasn’t like it was nothing but indie games all around.
The clear focus this year, even more so than last year, was VR. Not only did Sony show of its Playstation VR (which I didn’t get to test because they literally closed the line like 70% of the day so you’d pretty much have to camp it for hours in order to earn the privilege of actually standing in line for a few more hours to use it), nVidea also showcased its GeForce VR and many, many Oculus indie games were present showing off their implementation of this awesome technology.
I was lucky enough to actually be able to use the nVidea VR after I stumbled into the booth and asked the guy sitting behind a desk there (in Korean) if there was some way to try it. He answered that you were supposed to sign up for it online beforehand, but since I was here now and there was one machine free he’d allow me to try it out right now. Sometimes (actually, most of the time) being a foreigner that can speak some Korean really helps out. The booth girl that was explaining how the tech worked was also sufficiently impressed with my (honestly not that good!) Korean, which never gets old tbh fam, and after that I got to jump into EVE: Valkyrie, a space dogfighting game.
I should mention that I thought the Oculus (and other VR sets) would ship with adjustable lenses for people with glasses (i.e. basically their entire target demographic), but so far everyone’s just told me to shove my glasses uncomfortably into the gear itself and play like that. Maybe when it’s actually properly released that won’t be necessary.
Anyway, aside from that minor detail I was once again thoroughly impressed. The only game I had ever played on Oculus was that horror game at Hapcheon a few months ago, and that was a low budget indie thing where you couldn’t even move your own character. This was really something else. I honestly can’t help being impressed by the headtracking of these things. I look to my right and I see a bunch of blinking lights and screens showing all kinds of cockpit information, above me I see the hangar ceiling through a pane of glass and below me the controls of my spacecraft with my character’s hand firmly wrapped around them. As I’m taking in how freaking awesome this all looks (no indie-level graphics either, I think this one was built on the latest Unreal Engine) my ship shoots out into space and I’m in the middle of a huge battle between two rival fleets. Obviously all the on-screen information was in Korean so I had no idea what I was doing, but it wasn’t that hard to figure out you’re supposed to shoot the red ships and avoid crashing into anything. It was honestly an amazing experience. It still felt like you were playing a game, of course, due to the controller being in your hands, but everything else is just so much like real life. You hear the missile lock-on sound and you look behind you to see if you’re being tailed and you look up to gauge your estimated trajectory before steering into that direction. It’s just badass as hell, seriously.
Other VR applications included a paragliding game where you’re literally sitting inside a freaking hanging contraption with ropes and pulleys that would, I imagine, make it feel exactly like you’re up in the clouds; a number of shooty shooty games and a few horror games.
Now, I gotta admit I am a complete bitch when it comes to horror games but I’ve always wanted to try a horror game using VR. It’s like how I’m still waiting for a decent 3D horror movie in cinemas because it could just add so much to the terror that it just has to turn out awesome as hell. So, even though they told me I would have to wait in line at least 2 hours to try it, I decided to go for a game called “The Corpse”. Once again the little Korean I know actually saved me, as the guys running the booth told me that the expo would be closed by the time the people in front of me would finish playing and so “the end of the line is here”, to which I offered “How about moving the end of the line to…*motions behind myself* here?” and they actually went with it. Oh yeah.
So after two hours of very, very boring waiting, I got inside the kind of weird square box in the middle of the expo floor and finally understood why it took 2 hours for like 20-30 people to experience this game. It wasn’t just a VR thing..it was so much more awesome.
Once inside, I was hooked up to a harness which was in turn hooked up to rails lining the ceiling of the little box. They put the Oculus on me, snapped the earphones in place and tapped me on the shoulder to tell me everything was ready for me to start. No controller. And I soon found out that we didn’t need a controller as I looked around the spooky-ass poorly lit hallway I was in and carefully took a step forward. My character moved forward as well. This..man..this is the future guys. I know giant companies are pouring billions of dollars into this tech right now but THEY NEED TO POUR IN BILLIONS MORE, OKAY? Seriously, this is some next level entertainment and can be used to power so many amazing experiences. Anyway, so, my every movement in real life was being tracked directly into the game which made it so, so much more scary than playing with a controller. At first, it felt rather strange to be actually walking around in this game world, but I got used to it just before the part where there was a bunch of bloody organs on the floor in the game, its texture recreated on the real life floor making you feel super gross as you walked across them. Obviously, there were a fair few jump scares, but they worked incredibly well since it felt like my body was actually there. I stepped back in shock multiple times and hesitated to walk forward when I finally saw the titular corpse standing very still ahead of me, but then ran like hell when it suddenly jumped to life and ran after me.
To make this whole thing even more awesome the corpse was actually motion captured in real time by an actor that was in the box with me. So when I accidentally brushed up against the corpse I could literally feel it in real life as well which spooked the hell out of me.
This shit man…seriously…I wish I could experience stuff like this every day. But I guess we’ll have to wait a few more years for that.
Aside from these two games, I didn’t play all that much. I played Arkham Knight on the new nVidea gaming laptops, sucked ass at Persona – Dancing all Night and played some random not very impressive shooting game.
As I mentioned the main trend was VR, but related to that I think player immersion was really the biggest thing this year. Lots of games came with all manner of badass peripherals ranging from a simple gun to a pneumatic moving couch, a pneumatic moving bob sled to a freaking crazy amusement park ride of a contraption that spun, raised, lowered and bobbed around in all directions as players were driving a car in-game. All of this stuff looked amazing and I really wish I had more time to try all of them.
Also, taking pictures with said really hot girls or just selcas in general.
In between this important work I also managed to pick up some swag, although the quantities were severely lacking compared to last year. I did manage to win some cool stuff though as I attended one of the Quiz Give-aways at the Final Fantasy booth. Obviously, the quiz was in Korean, but some of the prizes were so nice that I really wanted to try it plus since I would have to take TOPIK two days later I thought some extra practice wouldn’t hurt. I actually managed to get the answers to two of the questions, but most of the time the friendly guy next to me just told me what it was and then pointed at me with both hands screaming “THIS GUY! THIS GUY KNOWS!!” to get the attention of the MC giving out the gifts to the person with the correct answer. My biggest break came, however, when the MC asked which of us came the furthest to be here. “Jeju” one person said, “Seoul”, another. I realized that finally, this was my time to shine. So I threw my embarrassment out the window and just screamed “요기요! 네덜란드요!” at the MC who was clearly surprised and admitted he couldn’t deny that that was indeed pretty far as he handed over my limited edition t-shirt.
All in all it was an amazing day with lots of cool and interesting experiences, and when I finally met up with Gary, shared my stories and stuffed my face with shabu shabu, I couldn’t wait to get home and drop dead on my bed.
P.s. Korean players absolutely hate being linked into sites not running on 10 year old HTML, so here’s a link for who wants to watch another video in Korean: